Hypnotism is a topic that generally in the minds of most people must bring to mind magicians with clocks swinging, swirling eye glasses and snake-oil salesmen. In many ways it sounds similiar to palm reading or the ability to tell a person's traits by the bumps on theiread (which was a practiced science in the 1800's up to I think early 1900's.)
The difference, however is that hypnotism appears to actually have much more actual validity. The U.S. government from my understanding did many experiments that focused on hypnotism and acid in order to see if it was effective in extracting the truth from people. They also sought to see if they could plant ideas in peoples minds to be triggered in the future. For this reason and many others it should be a science only applied by someone of great intelligence who is trustworthy. It is completely understandable why people are apprehensive to being under hypnosis, because a good bit of the interest in it's use in the past has been geered towards controlling the actions of people. However, controlling people's actions can be used for both good and evil.
The thing that needs to be understood are the many potential benefits of hypnotism. A person who is addicted to smoking might be able to quit smoking with it's help by reaching them on the subconscious level. A person who has lost a loved one might be helped to overcome pain. An obsessive disorder such as cleptomania may be able to be hindered with the use of hypnotism. I think that there is probably many more uses for hypnotism already than most people are aware of and that many more will be discovered.
A Dr that I knew to be extremely trustworthy and respectable above all other pschologists I've ever met explained to me how he made use of it. He said after he was retired as a favor he would let a woman come to his home to be hypnotized to quit smoking. He would repeat to her the reasons that it was bad for her health and why she would not want to harm her body while under hypnosis. Apparently, she would not necessarily remember when brought out of hypnosis what he had said consiously. She had to return each day so that the message would resonate, but apparently it subconsiously would occur to her so that she was less likely to smoke.
Part of this may appear to be the art of influence. Certainly, it has been said that some people are more susceptible to it. However, that is the the nature of what hypnotism is. It is the ability to influence someone's subconsious mind. It may be that it works no different than a simple conversation that would discourage smoking, but I doubt it. I do not know how it works, but I do believe that there are ways that it can be used to influence the mind and a person's actions if it is repeated.
The potential benefits of hypnotism could be innumerable, eliminating the need for many forms of medicine, psychiatry, and pschotherapy in many cases. The true test of how powerful or true a form of medicine it is only time will tell. The main thing that must always be remembered however with this form of therapy is that it is not infallible, and that it has much potential for misuse. However, in the right hands hypnotism has potential to truly help the masses. It can be viewed as something that should only be used by someone of the right skill. Whereas a child might not know what a baseball bat is for and wind up breaking things in the process of learning how to use it a professional athlete could hit a baseball for hundreds of feet. In the same say hypnotism will hopefully be left only to the people who truly understand it and will use it responsibly.